If you like Horseback Riding you are on the right island. There are many horses on the Big Island, especially in and around Waimea. The scenic open landscapes here are great for horsepower powered adventures, and did you know that the island of Hawaii has a rich equestrian history including Hawaiian Cowboys?
The history of Paniolos – the Cowboys of Hawaii
Hawai’i has its own brand of cowboys, or Paniolo’s, and a rich history in horseback riding. When the Spanish vaqueros (“cowboys”) arrived to the island in the early 19th century they brought the traditional euro-latin culture of riding and roping skills. The king of Hawaii hired these vaqueros to teach Hawaiians herding and ranching skills in order to control the many many cows that were given to the Hawaiian royalty as a gift, but now where roaming the island almost uncontrolled.
As the Hawaiian culture and latin vaquero cultures mingled, a unique breed of cowboy emerged, the Paniolo! Waimea on the Big Island is Paniolo central, and the place to be if you like horseback riding – local style!
Saddle up! Get started with your horseback riding tour
Several ranches offer the opportunity to ride their (often very large) range as part of a guided tour of the pastures with spectacular views of the coastline and peaks. It is also possible to make it of the range and explore other spectacular parts of the island, such as Waipi’o valley!
The biggest ranch on the Island is the Parker Ranch. Their tours can be booked via the Cowboys of Hawaii. Other popular options are Na’alapa Stables and Paniolo Adventures. The Na’alapa stables also offer 2.5 hr excursions on horseback deep into Waipi’o valley.